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Daughter absolutely hates going to school - what can I do?

(20 Posts)
freddiefrog Wed 14-Nov-12 09:35:01

My daughter is 7 and in year 3.

Ever since we started pre-school, she has cried and got herself in a state in the mornings. She cried and had to be peeled off me every single morning, through 18 months of pre-school, reception, year 1, year 2 and into year 3.

We tried a number of things over the years, but she was a determined little so and so, although we've recently managed to crack the crying with her new year 3 teacher.

All fine.

Except, she's now started crying and getting herself worked up at bedtimes and at home in the mornings

She refuses to go to bed, stay in bed and go to sleep. We've had the same bedtime routine for years and she's always, until recently, been really good at bedtime (bath, supper, bed by 7.15pm, 15 minutes of reading, lights out and sound asleep by 8pm), but she thinks that by refusing to go to bed/sleep, she'll be too tired to go to school the next day - she's still up messing around until midnight sometimes

In the mornings she's impossible to get up. Refuses to eat breakfast, I have to fight her into her clothes, make her clean her teeth, and lately she's been late to school as she just refuses to walk (won't ride her bike or use her scooter either). She just flat out refuses. Tantrums and sit down protests aplenty and she's getting too big and strong to shove under my arm and carry her.

We did have some initial success with a sticker chart - we gave her stickers for going to bed, staying in bed, going to sleep, getting up, eating breakfast, etc and if she got a certain amount of stickers she got to hold her hamster when she got home from school, and also to earn extra PC time. Now when we remind her of her stickers she doesn't care

She does have some special needs and is currently being assessed (this has been ongoing for sometimes now) - initially, it was thought she was dyspraxic (she ticks every single dyspraxic box) but following an OT assessment they are now looking at ADHD and Aspergers, but the trouble is she seems to have a foot in the door of all developmental disorders so untangling her is taking it's time.

In the meantime she's getting further and further behind at school, the gap between her peers is widening, she's beginning to notice this and she's finding it massively frustrating.

She has zero concentration, no working memory, her maths is awful and reading even worse. Her spellings consist of words like bus and cat (which she still consistently spells wrong) and she's noticing her friends are on stuff like orchestra and shuttlecock.

School are fantastic - she's on an IEP, gets 1-2-1 time every day, gets a lot of 1 on 1 help in class, they've provided twiddle sticks, coloured sheets for reading, a wiggle cushion, a privacy board, sloped desks, a pop up tent where she goes when it all gets a bit overwhelming, etc, etc.

She's happy when she's actually at school. She's very sociable and is popular, has lots of friends and gets on well with everyone. Works hard, tries even harder and loves her teacher who is very supportive but DD's very disillusioned and disheartened

I was so pleased that we'd cracked the crying, but we just seem to have transferred it to evenings/mornings at home, so any ideas please?

Thank you!

AnnIonicIsoTronic Wed 14-Nov-12 09:37:16

sad what a trial

fuzzpig Wed 14-Nov-12 09:45:45

Poor girl sad

I think when it comes down to it some children are just not cut out for school. I have similar issues but they weren't picked up on as a child, but there were certain things about school that were too much for me.

Sorry to sound flippant but have you considered homeschooling?

HullyEastergully Wed 14-Nov-12 09:49:02

As it's been going on for years, I would suggest taking her out for a bit of poss. My dd refused to go to school for a few weeks in Yr3 and I said fine, stay home etc. In my dd's case I think once she knew she didn't HAVE to go, she could relax and start thinking that maybe she wanted to again.

I don't know if that would work for you, but she sounds terribly unhappy and somehow the cycle needs to break.

rrbrigi Wed 14-Nov-12 10:39:50

Your poor little girl! What an awful start for her! sad

You say school is great. Great for what? What they did in the past 3 years to try to solve the problem (crying, not liking school, etc...)? Do you really think is it great that she get 1-2-1 time all day every day and she is so behind? So what the SEN teacher does with her, every day? Sitting next to her and make sure she won't interrupt the class? That is not enough! Of course she started to feel how far behind she is. And do you know what it means? She is going to be cleverer and cleverer. Do you really think who can play with a PC (start a game, read what she needs to do, coordinate her hands with mouse or keyboard, etc...) is not able to spell cat?

I think you are really really patient to wait 3 years for school to solve this problem. I cannot imagine what you are going through every day. Did you speak to her, what is wrong with school? Do not let her say nothing. Prove her that you really want to know, because this is the only way you can help her, if you really know what the problem is. She needs to feel that you think so that is a very serious problem and you do not try to swipe under the carpet (if you know what I mean). Let her feel you are next to her and you love her. That is a problem that you need to solve with you daughter together!

I am not English and one of the things that I do not like in English school; that if somebody behind in learning, the school will say she or he has some developmental disorder, instead of helping her or him to catch up. If it was my child I (and if possible my husband too) would be in the school every afternoon with meetings with teachers, head teacher, SEN teacher who I need to get a plan how they are going to help me solve the problem. And I would want a daily feedback from the school how she is doing, what she has done on the day, settling in the morning, etc... And if the plan is not going in the right way, than I would start it again (meetings, feedback, etc...). You know I do not mind what the teacher think of me, we do not need to be friends but I expect the teacher to do her job perfectly as with my child as with others.

And if not a rapid improvement until the end of the term I would think either homeschooling or move her to another school environment. Sometimes to change the environment can help too.

Please note, these are my opinion only. I never was a situation like you. I just feel really sorry for you and for your daughter.

freddiefrog Wed 14-Nov-12 10:41:10

DH and I did consider homeschooling, but if to be honest, neither of us have the skills we'd need. We're really not cut out for it and I think we could do more harm than good.

She's not unhappy when she's in actually in school. She really enjoys it, loves the social side of it and her friends, loves her teacher and TA.


efeslight Wed 14-Nov-12 12:09:08

i agree with hully, this sounds terrible and i imagine it dominates the whole familys life. Can she go part time? Have some time off? It sounds like she's got herself into a terrible rut, for whatever reason. does she miss school during holidays? and look forward to going back?
i think you need to tell school its getting to the point where you physically cannot battle and get her into school by yourself, and see what they suggest

ClareMarriott Thu 15-Nov-12 09:11:36


You don't mention any other siblings so I assume she is an only child. So if this is the case, I would suggest you speak to the school/ assessment people and find out exactly what is going on with her so you know what is going on and can make decisions as to whether she remains in that school or gets moved or whatever is necessary

lljkk Thu 15-Nov-12 09:17:15

Sorry you're having such a rough time. I can't help but think that her complex SN is at root of it, if you can get her other needs better met she may cope better with going into school, too.

crazygracieuk Thu 15-Nov-12 11:38:48

Poor you and your daughter.

I would have switched to homeschooling if my child had been showing anxiety about going to school for so long.

I think that the pros of homeschooling would outweigh the cons.
Pros: Many areas have home ed groups for the social side
No anxiety about going to school so calmer home life.
One to one at home might mean that she can catch up as shes not busy crying etc at school.

Cons: If you work you have to still make an income.
Your daughter will miss her friends during school hours so you'll have to supplement with playdates etc

midseasonsale Thu 15-Nov-12 19:08:00

The message I am getting loud and clear is that she is very unhappy about things particularly on the work side. Her self belief is clearly wobbling.

In your shoes I would ask the school to move her down a year group. It may seem a bit tricky at first but it could do the world of good for her confidence.

freddiefrog Thu 15-Nov-12 20:19:54


Sorry, i didnt think to mention her sister. She has an older sister (11)

Homeschooling is really not an option. DH and I both need to work and neither of us have the skills to do it properly.

I've heard back from the paed today who are now pushing onwards with her assessments for aspergers (although I don't think it's that, she doesn't have enough traits) and ADHD (which I think is more likely).

We've spent years telling school and GPs we think she's different, but no one would listen to us. It was always put down to her immaturity (she's an August baby so young in her year). It wasn't she went into year 2 that her teacher asked us to have her assessed.

Had a couple of meetings today with her teacher and SENCO and they've changed her IEP and started some new strategies. It's just a case of adapting things to see what suits her.

Her paed has asked us to think about how we feel about medication for ADHD and is sending out some info, as he feels this will allow her to concentrate for significant periods of time, will help her improve and help her self esteem, but I'm not too sure about it. Behaviour-wise she's cope-able and I just don't know.

She is happy in school, she comes out full of chatter and laughter. She joins in, does after school clubs, goes to parties and friends for tea and sleepovers. Generally, she's happy but we seem stuck in some sort of viscous circle of anxiety about it.

LindyHemming Thu 15-Nov-12 20:50:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

freddiefrog Thu 15-Nov-12 20:57:32


Yes, we do. School do it (one for the whole class and a personal one just for her) and we have one at home.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 15-Nov-12 21:14:36


We are H.edding our dd but for completely different reasons. The only real skill you need is to identify that you are doing it for your dc.
Your daughter sounds like I was as a child and nothing was diagnosed in those days. I now know I am dyslexic, with irlams syndrome, dyspraxic, with adhd. School for me was Hell on earth and I still haven't completely recovered from the horror.
Your dd sounds so unhappy and I know how she feels, its literally like being a fish out of water. whatever you decide about her schooling please don't leave her there any longer as it seems to be affecting her whole life.
If its only lack of confidence holding you back from H.ed please join the threads, where there is alot of support, otherwise I would personally be pro active in searching for other schools that would suit her better.
Good luck and I hope you find a solution soon.

ellie732 Fri 16-Nov-12 20:59:16

It sounds like she feels a lot of separation anxiety,and low self esteem. Can she talk about it? If she has noticed that she is different, then she might need a lot of reassurance and reminding about all the things that are unique and good about her (sounds like there are lots of them). Pointing out how well she has done getting on with things at the end of a whole day without you, and thinking about how she managed that (sounds like once shes busy she doesn't have the time to worry about missing you!). Would it help to have something that she can use to remind herself about you if she starts to miss you - something to look at, touch, sell etc? Then she will remember that she will see you soon, so saying goodbye is less of a big deal.

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Sat 17-Nov-12 10:29:59

The only skill you need to HE is to be a vaguely intelligent and interested parent. If you read the HE threads you will soon realise this! So your skills aren't an issue at all - I'd be looking at changing my working hours if it were me. Flexi-schooling (part-time school) has made the world of difference to us - my DD was exactly the same as yours (though without the SEN) and it took until the end of Y4 before we cracked it. A few weeks of flexi-schooling and she was like a different child. No more years, no more nightmares...

Bubblenut Sat 17-Nov-12 10:37:10

Under no circumstances take her out of school as suggested by another poster!!

You are doing a great job here and are doing everything right. It might be a good idea to try counciling for your child to discuss her anxieties

Welovecouscous Sat 17-Nov-12 10:46:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Mon 19-Nov-12 08:05:44

Under no circumstances take her out of school as suggested by another poster!!

It's a perfectly sensible and reasonable option. The child is in Y3, it's not like they haven't given it time! We took my DD out part-time in Y4 and you wouldn't believe the amount of people who said we were doing the wrong thing and that we should keep persevering. Er, we tried it for 5 years and it didn't work - what on Earth made them think that another year would make a difference?!

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